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FERC Unanimously Rejects DOE NOPR, Orders Examination of Nation's Power Grid

In the end, FERC said "no" to the NOPR.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday unanimously rejected a controversial notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry to change the nation's grid reliability and resilience policies, and instead issued a separate order "to holistically examine the resilience of the bulk power system."

The decision is a stinging defeat for the Trump administration, a strong supporter of the coal industry since the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a statement, FERC said it appreciated Perry's proposal but it also recognized that the Commission must be "vigilant with respect to resilience challenges, because affordable and reliable electricity is vital to the country's economic and national security."

The Commission instead directed operators of regional wholesale power markets "to provide information as to whether FERC and the markets need to take additional action on resilience of the bulk power system” in its order [AD18-7].

"The goals of this proceeding are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate."

FERC directed the regional market operators to submit their information within 60 days, and pledged to review any information provided "promptly."

DOE submitted the NOPR to FERC last September. While coal and some electricity organizations showed support for the NOPR, natural gas industry groups were vehemently opposed, calling it a bailout for coal and nuclear power generators.

One recent analysis concluded that subsidies included in the NOPR would cost as much as $10.6 billion a year, with the vast majority of the money going to a handful of coal and nuclear companies.

Hours before the NOPR was rejected by FERC, Apple Inc. weighed in, charging that the proposal would “inhibit, rather than promote, a well-designed and competitive electricity market.”

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